Monthly Archives: March 2012


Meriful 9

…and another post linked to Shanghai’s Fuzhou Road.This time about a shop called Meriful.

Meriful is quite different to the other shops you’ll find on Fuzhou Road. It is neither a cheap shop selling mainly Chinese-made stationery, nor is it one of those boutique-like shops selling a mix of “cute stuff” and designed, overpriced stationery of questionable quality. Instead you’ll find many items you might find in the online shops of the West, like JetPens, Cult Pens, bureauDIRECT or the less well known Deskstore.

Erasers...

Even though the shop is not too big you will find an incredible choice of exciting items. Just looking at the erasers – there must have been more than 100 different ones. Most items in the shop are imported from Asia, but you will also find European brands, like Rhodia (I bought the orange pad cover in Meriful) or Faber-Castell.

Midori Traveler's Notebooks

 

Meriful sells expensive designer calculators from Canon, but also affordable mechanical pencils from Redcircle (which are essentially fake Rotring pencils) as well as absolutely stunning handmade desk accessories from China (so beautiful, but so expensive).

Stationery by Carl

 

Imported items were usually about 50% more expensive than in their country of origin, but that isn’t too expensive, I thought. Other shops have similar mark-ups for imported stationery.

Carl Decorer Tape Dispenser

 

 

Their selection of items by Carl was amazing. The Decorer desk set (¥158, ~ $25 ; £15.60; €18.80) was unfortunately not available in the colour we liked, so my wife bought one of the Carl Decorer tape dispenser by itself, not as a set. It doesn’t feel as solid as it looks and it is a bit odd that the different materials have different shades of green, but overall it is a very nice tape dispenser.

 

Some of the items I bought in Meriful. The nice leather pen case is made in Korea.

Staff are very friendly and you can even negotiate the price if you find any issue with the products (previously opened, etc). When I asked for a new Rhodia pad cover from their stock they offered me a discount because they didn’t have any unopened ones left.

 


Price: December 2011

Exchange rates: March 2012


Overpriced stationery in Shanghai 11

There seem to be many different kinds of shops selling stationery in Shanghai.

 

There are the functional ones, selling stationery and other office supplies. Customers seem to be companies, but you’ll also find pupils there.

 

There are the fashionable ones. You’ll find them near universities. They do have some normal stationery, but seem to focus on cute stationery. They also sell make-up and girly things, too. The fashionable stationery is not always of high quality.

 

Queen's Market - selected by Tokyo

 

…and then there are the overpriced stationery shops. They are often located in shopping centres. They sell all sorts of expensive stuff. To be fair, the price is not only the shops fault. Many items, even though they have been made in China, have been reimported from Japan or Korea. I assume that even in Japan or Korea they are not cheap in the first place and someone has to pay for (re-)importing small numbers of them, which are probably not very economical. You can often find other items in these shops, like Monchhichis or iPhone docking stations.

 

Queen's Market - selected by Tokyo

You can see the Delfonics range behind the theft detector pedestal

 

One example of this kind of shop is “Queen’s Market – selected by Tokyo” in the new Shanghai Hongkou Dragon Dream Shopping Centre. Amongst other items they are selling Delfonics‘ Rollbahn range, Japanese stationery with German text printed on that sounds very much like it’s coming straight out of a Kraftwerk song.

These kind of shops often don’t survive very long. One reason might be that there are similar shops near the shopping centres which pay less rent and sell similar items cheaper – often copies or similar no-name products.

In the last five years or so the number of these overpriced stationery shops has gone up steadily.

 


 

I would like to thank Hui Liu for telling me about this new shopping centre in Hongkou. I would have not gone there otherwise.


Three black pencils 4

Today: black pencils from China. Black because of the paint, not because of the lead or the wood. I bought these pencils in December in Keyroad, a shop I have mentioned several times so far.

The three competing black pencils, here in a Dairy Queen calendar pencil stand.

OK, we’ve got the black version of the Chung Hwa 6903 and the M&G AWP34601. Chung Hwa and M&G are both from Shanghai. Just South of Shanghai is Zhejiang province, represented by the Zibom P-6000 pencil.

 

Chung Hwa 6903

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the, in my opinion, better looking brown version of the Chung Hwa 6903. The black version is very similar. The pencil is still round, but painted black and the cap at the end is black, too, not white. I paid ¥9.9 (~ £1; $1.55; €1.20) for a dozen.

The Chung Hwa 6903

 

 

Zibom P-6000

Then we’ve got the hexagonal Zibom P-6000. It comes with an eraser and has the packaging I like most of these three pencils. It also comes with a sharpener, but the pencils have an unfinished end. I paid ¥7.5 (~ 75p; $1.20; 90c) for a dozen.

The Zibom P-6000

 

M&G AWP34601

The last pencil in this blog post is the hexagonal M&G AWP34601. This pencil is certainly the winner is this group when it comes to the coolest model number. I paid ¥9.9 (~ £1; $1.55; €1.20) for a dozen.

The M&G AWP34601

 

…and the winner is:

My personal favourite is the M&G AWP34601, the only 2B pencil in this comparison1. It’s the winner …not because of the cool model number, which sounds like a model number for some sort of high tech robot, but because the wood is not red. If anything, the AWP34601’s wood is too yellow, but I still prefer that to red wood. The runner up is the Zibom P-6000, the packaging is great, it is the cheapest in this comparison and comes with a free sharpener. The worst pencil is the Chung Hwa 6903. Yes, I know, this must be difficult to believe, as my blog post about the brown version was quite positive – but unlike the brown version this black version is just not so nice. Plus, I prefer hexagonal pencils. Lead-wise the AWP34601 is smoothest, it is a 2B after all. The P-6000 seems scratchier than the 6903. Wood-wise the 6903 has the hardest wood, so hard in fact that the auto-stop mechanism of some desktop sharpeners will not engage.

Congratulations M&G AWP34601.

Renold, the robot, presents the winner, the AWP34601.

The winner: The M&G AWP34601 2B

GoldSilverBronze
M&G AWP34601Zibom P-6000Chung Hwa 6903
Good:

cool name

wood not red

smooth lead

 

 

 

Good:

cheap

free sharpener

 

Bad:

red wood

unfinished end

Bad:

hard wood

red wood

round

 

 

 

 


Prices: December 2011

Exchange rates: March 2012

 

The Dairy Queen calendar pencil stand was ¥10 (~ £1; $1.60; €1.20). It comes with twelve walls for twelve months and three “bottoms”. Bureau Direct started selling a similar pencil stand (maybe a but late, now that it’s already March), unfortunately it is quite a bit more expensive: £9.95 (~ $15.60; €11.95).

 

Unfortunately I forgot to open the lens’ aperture on the photo where Renold, the robot, presents the winner.  Now the out of focus highlights are not round and a bit distracting..

  1. The other two pencils are HB. []

Dirk Gently and the Grip 2001 10

Another screenshot, this time from Episode 1 of the Dirk Gently TV series1. There are several pencils in this episode. One of them is easy to identify and plays an important role: it’s being used for shading paper to reveal a message.

Dirk Gently and the Grip 2001 (Image © ITV Studios / BBC Cymru Wales)

 

The TV series seems to be loosely based on the book, with different episodes picking up different plots from Douglas Adams’ book (at least that’s the impression I have so far, after watching the pilot and episode 1. Future episodes might be different).

 

If you want to know more about Faber-Castell’s Grip 2001 pencils have a look at pencil talk’s review. There’s also another review at Pencil Revolution.

 

Update: 11 March 2012: Today would have been Douglas Adams’ 60th birthday.

 


The photo of the pencil has been taken from episode 1 of the Dirk Gently TV series. I believe that the use of this image falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. Episode 1, I thought, was not as good as the pilot from 2010 []